The programme was launched in 2018 to educate, equip and empower women with the relevant skills and confidence to survive and thrive in the clearly male-dominated STEM career fields.
Now in its fourth year, the WiW programme has been making innovators, makers and tech entrepreneurs out of women. As little drops of water, the programme is making a mighty ocean of women who are braving the storms of cultural stereotyping to be the best version of themselves. In between the inception and now, the programme has, directly and indirectly, touched the lives of over 2000 young women in the WACREN region and beyond.
The WiW program comprises two main activities: an online course and a hackathon event. The online course was created in collaboration with Eko-Konnect (an NREN in Nigeria) and volunteers from the University Cape Coast in Ghana. The online course targets women with passion, with or without prior knowledge in computing or tech. This free course: 'Physical Computing with Python' introduces participants to fundamentals of sensor interaction with the physical world and programming. It runs for 10 weeks annually. Participants receive tutelage on introduction to Linux Command Line Interface, Python Programming, DevOps Lifecycle and Git and Embedded Systems, Sensors, and other common electronic components.
Successful participants are usually selected to partake in in-person Hackathons where they apply knowledge gained in building prototypes of real-life smart devices and overall acquire coding, problem-solving and hardware skills. It’s exciting to say that over 300 females from across Africa have participated and 150 certificates of completion have been issued. The course is built on interactive, visual and collaborative learning experience through community discussion forums, video conferencing, webinars and group projects. To attract wider participation across Africa, WACREN is planning to make the WiW programme activities multilingual.
Following the 2019 online course was a five-day WiW Hackathon event ably hosted by Eko-Konnect and held at the Covenant University in Nigeria. Selected online course participants engaged in building interactive real-life prototype physical computing projects using low-cost sensors and embedded devices. During the pilot hackathon, the participants built a Data-Logging IoT Weather Station. The prototype project was further deployed on some institutions premises to create an NREN Weather Map where weather data collected across different locations can be stored, analysed and visualised on a single internet of things (IoT) platform.
WACREN will continue to harness its capacities to empower and offer opportunities to women who have passion for STEM. The regional REN will continue to contribute to the achieving of the Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - ‘to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls.’
WACREN is open for partnerships with regional and national RENs across Africa, women group activists, international donors, governmental agencies and regional bodies; partnerships to scale up the programme to ensure that relevant investments are made in young women and girls to make their potentials to find expression.